July 28, 2004
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Simon's Abridged Guide to Living with Pregnancy (for men)
You and the wife have decided you no longer like sleep or money and are going to have a baby. You, the male, feel this is the final step in changing from caveman slob to responsible hunter-gatherer, from flannel to corduroy, from night life to day time. You figure that you'll at least be guaranteed of getting some lovin' time with your beloved. But there's 9 months* before you get there. So I am going to provide a helpful guide to what you've got yourself in for.
There are 4 stages. The pregnancy is usually broken up into 3 trimesters, which is medical speak for "we are going to charge you more and more the closer it gets to your due date". Let's look at each in turn.
The first 3 months
For a few weeks you're probably not even sure your wife is preggers. In fact often there's a clear early sign she is pregnant: she will go on some wild bender when the little foetus, your pride and joy, is only a few delicate cells old. This is called acclimatisation. Then your wife will go to the pharmacy and buy ludicrously expensive one time tests to determine if she really is up the duff. These mostly revolve around one principle: your wife pishes on a stick. It's a test: if this grosses you out, then babies are seriously going to be an issue for you. Then you sit and wait for 30 seconds until the line shows up. It is a common male mistake to see lines that aren't there, or to see the line that is the check the test worked as the line that you are extremely virile and your little fellas are Olympic swimmers. Trust me, you need two lines. Often, especially if this is your first baby, you'll burn through enough of these tests that you'll soon realise this isn't cheap. Get used to it, buddy.
Let's assume you've made it past this first hurdle. Your wife will then enter a period known as the "I feel like I'm going to be sick" stage. Morning sickness gets its name because it happens at any time of the day or night. Remember, the same people who named this sickness are charging you a fortune to see them each time. There are some women who don't get morning sickness. They are known as "lucky bitches". Your wife will be completely off-limits and the very sight of you can induce nausea and worse. The severity of this sickness differs but basically expect to go from getting plenty to getting none rapidly.
The other thing you need to prepare for is your first visit to your obstetrician (herein known as the money vacuum cleaner, or obs). In many places you need to call and book in just prior to conceiving the baby. That's right, prior. It's like Viagra but without the fun. At 12 weeks you go and visit the obs. The doc will be running late. You should get used to this. You will be in a waiting room with various other couples that go from old timers (usually on their 3rd or 4th, talking casually about anything but the baby) to other nervous newbies like yourselves. Finally you enter and the doc proceeds with the usual questions and tests. This involves plenty of blood and urine, much talk of horrendous financial conditions (ie yours) and a blow-by-blow description of the changes your wife will undergo. Then the doc will work out your expected due date (EDD, not Mister). The doc does this by taking a wheel thing-y, asking about your wife's last period, consulting the newspaper's astrological papers, reading some tea leaves and picking a random date about nine months later. From this moment the EDD will define you as a human. The chance of the baby coming on this date are about 3%. Don't attach too much importance to it. Also you need to get used to a new phrase: "normal for pregnancy" (NFP). The doctor will repeat this ad naseum to your wife in the months ahead as she asks questions: "I'm getting cramps". "That's normal for pregnancy." "I'm feeling tired and have high blood pressure." "That's NFP." "My left leg fell off." "That's NFP". You get the idea. Most importantly you will be told it's almost too late to book into a hospital for the birth. You should've called just after conceiving instead of having that cigarette. Let that be a lesson to you.
Once you pass the doc test it's time to tell people. Follow your wife's guidance on this. Telling random fellow bar-room drinkers before your in-laws is not a good start. Staying quiet and accepting glasses of champagne and manly winks and nudges is a far better route.
Note: at this stage it's too early to speak to your wife's tummy, or play music or whatever other bizarre hot housing method you have for turning your kid into a genius. The thing is a fish at this stage. Seen any fish with ears?
The middle 3 months
This is known as the golden period. Your wife will glow. Her morning sickness often (although not always) lifts and she develops a special state of nirvana. Her stomach starts to form a bump, and for once she doesn't mind. In fact often your wife will rub it affectionately. Be careful: there is never a time to tell a woman she is getting fatter, even if she's preggers. You will visit the obs monthly and will get an ultrasound of the baby. As I said, it looks like a fish. That's if you can make anything out at all. The technician will helpfully point out all the organs and bones developing in your pride and joy. The truth is it looks like static. It's best to nod politely and go along with it.
This is also the stage you read various books about babies, childbirth and pregnancy. Usually these books contain helpful photographs of what will happen. Unhelpfully they are not big enough to contain a magazine that you'd rather be reading.
The last 3 months
Your wife will continue to grow. She will actually be pleased that she is putting on weight. Enjoy this, it is a unique time. However she is also entering the business end of the pregnancy. Biologically this induces changes in your wife. Her "nesting" instinct kicks in. This requires multiple visits to various baby stores for all sorts of paraphernalia that the caveman seemed to manage without but are indispensable to modern child rearing. If you're lucky this will be it. If you're unlucky this will start to involve you and your wallet. It could be repainting the house; renovating the house; or worst of all a new house. Like you don't have enough stress already. If this is the case your friends and family may be thankful: your conversation will change from babies to the house, making a nice detour on your otherwise single-minded obsession with your upcoming parenthood.
Your wife will be getting bigger and bigger. It looks uncomfortable but that's mostly because it is. It is time to enter the world of new age manhood. Try helping out around the house. It won't help you get any, especially as you near the end, but it's the least could you do given the state you've put your wife in. If you forget this step, don't worry. You will be reminded.
The main event
The big day is approaching. You've mapped out the route to the hospital. You have your bag packed (checklist for women: clothes; for baby: clothes; for man: camera, video, mobile phone**, snacks, drinks, a change of clothes, a strong stomach). But you're worried about how something that big is going to get out of the little hole you used to call your own.
Newsflash: this has been done before. Hell, even your parents dealt with a birth, so you can too. The most important thing is this is not about you. It's not about your wife. It's not even about your baby. It's about the hospital and doctor making as much money as they can as quickly and as effortlessly as they can. And these guys are good.
There are various signs that your wife is entering labour. The clearest one is when your wife grabs you by the hand and squeezes the life force out of you screaming "we need to get to the f*cking hospital NOW!". Listen to her. But be prepared, there's a good chance the hospital will tell you both to turn around and go home. Even more interesting is the Jekyll and Hyde nature your wife adopts. When a contraction comes she will be in a state of extreme distress and is likely to blame you for many of the world's problems, not just hers. Be prepared for this and remember the age old rule: what's said in the delivery room stays in the delivery room. There's an important caveat to this rule: it only applies to your wife. It's not the time to tell her the bit on the side you had at that conference in Bangkok. In between contractions your wife will assume a tranquil and peaceful air and become at one with the world. Again be careful: it's a trap to lure you into a false sense of security before her next contraction. In the delivery room there will only be the two of you for much of the time. The midwife will be there for some of the time. The doctor will be there at the very end for just long enough to say they were there and earned their fee. The midwife will clean up the baby and leave the three of you alone. Your wife resumes her blissful state and will seem remarkably beautiful and wonderful to you. You only have one question left to deal with:
What do we do now?
* Yes, 40 weeks in reality, but you get my drift.
** Do NOT use the hospital phone. You're in enough financial trouble already.posted by Simon on 07.28.04 at 01:05 PM in the
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roflol! next install: babies101posted by: michele on 07.28.04 at 02:35 PM [permalink]
Hysterical!posted by: Susie on 07.28.04 at 07:23 PM [permalink]
You're in Hong Kong? Use the public hospitals - you're paying for them. No "they want our money" problems. And they're great - trust me.posted by: maggie on 07.28.04 at 08:21 PM [permalink]
That is alsmost too true to be funny, yet it is hilarious.
You forgot the best part of Pt.2: The horny mom-to-be. Hell, I had two more kids just to get that bit again.posted by: Jim on 07.28.04 at 09:02 PM [permalink]
Now, if only I weren't supposed to be surfing at the office, I could explain what was so damn funny.posted by: Helen on 07.28.04 at 09:44 PM [permalink]
Don't people in Hong Kong believe in epidurals for goodness sake? Savages.posted by: Rusty Shackleford on 07.28.04 at 10:26 PM [permalink]
Rusty, my wife's first words on entering the car park are "Epidural now." Problem is they turn it down at the end to help with the pushing...as I'm sure you know. Oh, and of course the doc can charge a nice bit extra for it too.
I'll have to tell you about the time the doc used the friggin' huge needle and my wife's back as a dartboard. I almost walked around and did it myself!posted by: Simon on 07.28.04 at 10:47 PM [permalink]
OMGosh so funny. Ah, but I had c-section with both my kids. No pushing for me! LOLposted by: Swt GA HunnyB on 07.29.04 at 02:00 AM [permalink]
A great guide on having a first child, though I am pretty sure you and Mrs M have had two previously.
And for those unlucky/lucky enough to have known you in pre-blog days, we all recall you showing the first ultrasound of JC, proudly telling everyone how you could see the arms and legs and fingers and toes of that fish blob....posted by: paul on 07.29.04 at 08:20 AM [permalink]
Haha! I can relate to this as my wife has entered the 35th week of her pregnancy...
Its our first time... so we are gathering much information on the whole affair of pregnancy.
We are sure gonna have a good time reading your post.
Thanks a lot for your nice written post.posted by: Rezwan on 08.24.04 at 03:05 PM [permalink]